Electrical conductivity, ion pairing, and ion self-diffusion in aqueous NaCl solutions at elevated temperatures and pressures

TJ Yoon and LA Patel and MJ Vigil and KA Maerzke and AT Findikoglu and RP Currier, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 151, 224504 (2019).

DOI: 10.1063/1.5128671

We have performed classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of aqueous sodium chloride (NaCl) solutions from 298 to 674 K at 200 bars to understand the influence of ion pairing and ion self-diffusion on electrical conductivity in high-temperature/high-pressure salt solutions. Conductivity data obtained from the MD simulation highlight an apparent anomaly, namely, a conductivity maximum as temperature increases along an isobar, which has been also observed in experimental studies. By examining both velocity autocorrelation and cross- correlation terms of the Green-Kubo integral, we quantitatively demonstrate that the conductivity anomaly arises mainly from a competition between the single-ion self-diffusion and the contact ion pair formation. The velocity autocorrelation function in conjunction with structural analysis suggests that diffusive motion of ions is suppressed at high temperatures due to the persistence of an inner hydration shell. The contribution of velocity cross-correlation functions between oppositely charged ions becomes significant at the onset of the conductivity decrease. Structural analysis based on Voronoi tessellation and pair correlation functions indicates that the fraction of contact ion pairs increases as temperature increases. Spatial decomposition of the electrical conductivity also indicates that the formation of contact ion pairs significantly decreases the electrical conductivity compared to Nernst-Einstein conductivity, but the contribution of distant opposite charges cannot be ignored except at the highest temperature due to unscreened long-range interactions.

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